And so the remodeling began. Our budget was set at $7000. Everyone says that when you start a project like this, you should plan on it taking twice as long as expected and paying twice as much as your original budget. Although we had the luxury of time, our budget was STRICT. Joe and I don't put anything on credit (we're those people). We live by the "if we can't afford it, then we can't have it" rule, so not even a dime over our budget was allowed. Although I'll be the first to admit that 7Gs is a hefty chunk of change, in the world of kitchen remodeling where the average American kitchen is costing 15-20,000 these days, it's really not very much to work with. That's when we realized that if this new kitchen was going to happen, then we were going to have to put in most of the dirty work ourselves.
Once we decided to go with Ikea cabinets, we started the design process. If you remember, I had originally mentioned wanting grey cabinets (darker kitchens truly are my favorite). Ikea does have a dark grey cabinet in a glossy finish that I'm quite fond of, but a) it would have never worked with our budget, and b) we started thinking that a lighter cabinet would be better for such a small space. Our kitchen is part of an open floor plan, but if you count it as its own room, it's not more that 60-70 square feet. I was all for going with white cabinets, but Joe was not a fan. That left us with a washed birch color that I would link to, but it has unfortunately been discontinued. At first, I think we both felt like we were settling on a color that we both liked enough. We had so much trouble compromising when it came to a lot of the decisions that were made, that I don't think either of us was expecting to love the final outcome as much as we do.
I started measuring the space and selecting cabinets that would not only fit, but would also make the most of our small space. Having worked in kitchens for many, many years, made me very accustomed to having very little work space. I was lucky if I ever got a few inches more than my cutting board. The old kitchen was so poorly planned that although there were ONE HUNDRED CABINETS, they were useless for actually storing anything. Having so much of our stuff spill out onto our counter made it incredibly difficult to get anything done in there. So, first on the list was making sure we had our storage situation under control. Surprisingly, I found that although our new kitchen had less cabinets than our old kitchen, I somehow ended up with a surplus of storage space. It's all about the planning, guys.
Once we got the cabinets figured out, Joe got to work. Remember that leaky window? Turns out it was't the window after all. Our vent over our hood had been leaking for what was probably YEARS, and it damaged half of our walls and created the perfect environment for an entire universe of black mold. When you've been a lifelong allergy sufferer like I have, finding black mold is a lot like finding a dead puppy. In other words, it's no bueno. We also discovered that our window did indeed have a frame, but the previous owners had covered it with drywall and then inserted a smaller window into said drywall to make more room for ALL THEIR CABINETS (it's pretty amazing to learn what your kitchen cabinets can be hiding). Then my husband did the most remarkable thing: he BUILT us new walls and made a proper window frame for our smaller window. And in the process, he ate away at our already tiny budget.
After getting through the insanity that was the walls and cabinets, we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our budget had taken a beating, so if we were going to have to live a few months without our new kitchen floor, then so be it. We ordered our countertop from a local vendor, and when it came out to be a few hundred dollars less than initially anticipated, we decided to put that extra money toward our tile installation. I knew that if we could replace walls, build window frames, and assemble and hang cabinets, then we could most certainly install tile... but sometimes you just need to call a tile guy and give yourself a break. At the 9 1/2 week mark, we were ready for the final piece of the puzzle, our floor, and we had actually still come in under budget, so we had that professionally installed as well. The entire project from start to finish took roughly 10 weeks. Seeing as we were thinking it would't take us more than a month, that sounds about right.
Here's a breakdown of our budget:
Tools and parts: $500
Tile Backsplash: $800
Hardwood Floor: $880
Appliances (microwave and dishwasher): $900
GRAND TOTAL = $6911 (phew!)
Things I learned:
1. For the money, Ikea really is the best for cabinets. After tons of research, we found that a quartz countertop was our best option. Quartz counters were running just as high as they were in a few of the high-end kitchen shops in the area, so Ikea obviously isn't the best option for everything. We also got our faucet from them because we picked it out around the time we were panicking about our budget, and their faucets were extremely affordable. So far, no problems.
2. Save what you can. Like I mentioned countless times, our previous kitchen was one hot mess. I was certain we wouldn't be able to reuse one, single thing, but we realized that we actually really loved the sink, so that stayed. It ended up saving us a few hundred dollars, too.
3. Look for discontinued items. Our countertop was a discontinued color, so we got a pretty good deal because the company was trying to liquidate what was left in stock.
4. Contractors charge you for EVERYTHING. We were foolish and didn't measure our elevator before ordering our counter. We didn't know if it would fit when delivered, so we were charged $90 to have it brought up three flights of stairs. Three men showed up on the day of installation, and it turns out it did fit, so they had it up here within two minutes. We basically could have flushed $90 down the toilet. I'm still a little pissed at Joe for not making those jerks walk it up the three flights of stairs, considering we PAID for that service. Anyway, we also saved money by installing our faucet and appliances ourselves.
5. Not everything is a standard size. For the most part, 24 in. dishwashers are 24 in. dishwashers, and 30 in. ovens are 30 in. ovens. When we originally started meauring and planning for our new kitchen, we figured the same rule would apply for over-the-stove microwaves. WRONG. The microwave that was originally here was a General Electric, and we learned that their microwaves are smaller than every other company's. Since that's what we measured for, we were stuck getting another general electric microwave even though all our other appliances were Maytag. It's not exactly the end of the world, but the stainless patina is slightly shinier on General Electric appliances, and their clock is a green light, whereas Maytag's is yellow. It took at least a couple months for the inconsistency to stop bothering me.
6. Get ready to rumble. When we were first house hunting, our realtor showed us a house that was missing some of its windows. The place brought new meaning to the term "fixer-upper". He told us that the easiest way to test our marriage was to start a home renovation. At the time, we laughed at his playful and silly joke, but, guys, those are some of the truest words ever spoken. Renovations are stressful in ways I can't possibly explain. Unless you take on such a big project completely by yourself, you will fight, and it will be nasty. I'm happy to report, however, that our marriage survived. Now, let's see what kind of damage the bathroom ends up doing.
Neon Plant Hanger
Fruit Basket (I just cut off that dumb sign)